Cowboy Poetry and Music and More at the BAR-D Ranch


Bragg Creek, Alberta
About Jesse Colt




One of our best bronc riders works a small spread near Priddis. Last year he made it through to the PRCA finals in Vegas. When he came home we were all anxious to hear about his experiences. I was sharing a beer with him, looking for a story, but it soon became clear that his most moving experience had occurred in a bar in LA. This is the way he told it to me.

Cowboy Self Taught

"Do you mind if I just sit here, Pard?"
Well, I scarce paid him no mind.
Then he folded up that thin white cane.
Well I'll be, that old wrangler, he's plumb stone blind.

The PRCA took me clear to Vegas,
Before I wrecked that last go round.
Thought I be leaving at the top.
Now, I'm just leaving town.

I was heading home through LA,
When fog shut that old airport tight.
All the flights, they say they're cancelled
Reckon now I'm stuck here for the night.

Now a rodeo pro in a fancy town,
Not where I'd usually chose to be.
And I was walking out them cold kinks
That neon sign flashed, Draft Beer and Cowboy Poetry.

Why, these local wranglers, they're all bogus.
A hand could tell just by their clothes.
But this blind guy, he's sure nough cowboy
From that old Stetson, down to them thar dusty toes.

"Tell me Friend, who is it, is reciting?"
He said, "Pard, now we'll have to sit and see."
Then the mikes engage on that glowing stage.
He said, "I confess, this time I guess, it's me."

Well he found his way to that shining stage,
Just as easy as you please.
And that old wrangler moved up to his mike,
Where he seemed plumb at his ease.

First, he spoke of spring rains and the smell of fresh sage
And the way that a sweet horse can sweep.
Then he told of the time his best bronc broke a leg
And Damn it! I near started to weep.

Next he pictured that girl, like I'd left in Bragg Creek.
His words moved me clear cross that room.
So help me I swear, I could fair feel her soft hair
And I know, I could smell her perfume.

Then he told bout them bulls at the Calgary Stampede
How you die when they first open that chute.
Right there I jumped up with my beer in my hand
And you know that I let out a whoop!

Well he spoke out so clear of the range I had rode
Them red sunsets that I'd often seen.
And he topped all those major mountains with snow,
Filled sweet valleys with forests of green.

Next, he rhymed out the years he'd driven them chucks,
When he'd raced on that Half Mile of Hell.
I could hear hard reins crack, cross them swift horses back
Well, at least till I stated to yell.

For an hour or more he held sway cross that floor.
We sat locked onto his every line.
And he charmed all those there popcorn cowboys
But the soul that he stole, it was mine.

Well I felt such a bond build between us
And the magic in his words and dry laugh.
For in him I could hear, my own life so clear
Then I knew that he'd once walked my path.

I've heard many a fine cowboy poet.
But this old wrangler was easy the best.
For he'd been where I'd been and he'd done what I'd done
And his words; they just painted The West.

The applause was more than polite, he'd impressed all right.
And we clapped him to three curtain call.
All them dudes were a whistling and stomping
With applause ringing of them warm walls.

I was choking back tears when he come round and sat down.
Had this dusty damned lump in my throat.
And I started to thank him, but all that come out
Was, "I've lived every word that you wrote.

"And can you tell me tonight, how did you lose your sight?
To a base bronc or brute bull in a rage.
And friend if you don't really mind, well how long have you been blind?
Did a wreck point your steps to that stage?"

He took a slow sip of Bud Light, smiled through that dark LA night.
Then what he said crashed me hard to this earth.
"Son, in truth I should tell, I could never see well.
Fact is, I been blind since my birth.

"Pard, I'm a Cowboy Self Taught. Damn, I sure read a lot.
Wish I'd been one, that much is tall true.
Yet, I'd give anything to touch a small part of that life.
But, tell me, what is it you do?"

"Friend, I got a real early flight, going to call it a night.
For I go, may I just shake your hand?"
Then I reached down and stripped off that buckle.
Made of silver, I'd won down in Cheyenne.

I moved slow out that door, then I turned back once more
And I stole one last look at that place.
Where his fingers were reading the proud words on that shield
Then I watched that slow smile cross his face.

I haven't figured out quite, what he taught me that night,
But, I know my Range Gods have been kind.
Now whenever I ride, he's kinda there at my side
That great poet, who cowboy'd in his mind.

2000, Jesse Colt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Often when I talk to the competitors on the rodeo circuit, I am amazed at
how little they boast about their own accomplishments. Instead, much of
their conversation pays tribute to the wives and mothers who are home
tending to their business and personal affairs. This next poem is dedicated to all ranch wives and mothers.

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

The hand that rocks the cradle is lacing up her chaps.
That old bronc he left is balking like a mule.
But she's got to push them cattle to fresh water and green grass.
Race back and buck three kiddies up for school.

The hand that rocks the cradle didn't sleep that well last night.
To bed at one, then her coffee down by five.
But the mare she's looking stronger and that black colts a little prince.
Took all her skills to keep them both alive.

The old Brahma bull broke out again; she'd love to shoot that fool.
Now there's another fence she'll have to tend
And all that fudge and cookies that she promised for the school.
Sometimes it seems her day won't ever end.

How she'd love some time just for herself
A soak, a book, or most of all a nap.
But the phone keeps on ringing when she comes into the house
Now there's six loads of bails she's got to cap.

He called late last night from Reno said he stuck the first go round.
One more good ride and he'll replace their truck.
And he asked how she was coping, for he was thinking 'bout Cheyenne.
She choked back her tears and then, she wished him "luck."

For she knows he loves the rodeo near as much as he loves her.
And without those funds, there'd be that banker on their lawn.
But some nights she wakes up shaking from the wreck he had last year.
Hugs his lonely pillow, then she lays awake till dawn.

She remembers when she met him; he was limping, caked with dust
But she melted when he smiled into her eyes.
He listened to her dreams and soon he gained her trust.
She loves living on those memories more than she hates his good-bys.

He never took her dancing to the movies or a show.
There were times she thought he'd plumb forgotten how to speak.
For his thoughts seemed on tomorrows ride or yesterday's poor-go
But those hands as hard as iron, just one touch could leave her weak.

Then one night he took riding while the moon was shining high.
He was talking bout how much he loved this land.
She was giddy from the moonlight and all those stars up in the sky
Then he kissed her quick and asked her for her hand.

She could of married money, both the doc and lawyer tried.
She knows she could have lived a life of ease.
But she chose the barns and pastures so her babes would grow up free.
Gave up all thoughts of fashion, Cadillacs and social teas.

She may not make it through the day without a little cry.
But both dogs are there to kiss her when she's blue.
And they help to make her stronger for she jumps back to her feet.
"He'll be home soon boys, 'sides we've got lots of work to do."

The hand that rocks the cradle will be mucking out the stalls.
She'll be dreaming bout her Cowboy on the road.
But she knows that he loves her and she knows that he knows
That the hand that rocks the cradle, is packing her share of the load.

2003, Jesse Colt
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

We asked Jesse how he came to write this poem and he said: I work with Christine Dix, a Western Artist. Most of the rodeo guys know her and we are welcome in the infield, their campers or when they are having a quiet beverage after the rodeo. I had expected to hear a lot boasting and bravado from these rough tough rodeo pros. I was surprised to hear most of their conversation with Christine centre on their families. They were much more interested in showing her a picture of their kids than the last buckle they had won. There was a real appreciation for the wives, girlfriends and mothers who were home managing their homes, ranches and finances.



About Jesse Colt:

Jesse is an Alberta based Cowboy Poet. He is a published author, living and writing in the foothills near Bragg Creek, Alberta. He currently works as an engineer for General Electric and runs a small ranch in the Alberta
foothills, near the Cowboy Trail.

His poetry has been featured on "Read the West" and on Hugh McClennan's "Spirit of the West." He is best known for his cowboy poetry posters and is currently completing his first illustrated book of Cowboy Poetry, Old Cowboys Belong to The West with western artist Christine Dix.

"The cowboy traditions, values and way of life have always appealed to me. There is no more romantic and inspiring figure that that of an older cowboy; gray-haired, tough and dignified. All my poetry has been dedicated to these ageing wranglers and their families.  A few beer shared in one of their favorite dusty watering holes with Ian Tyson singing in the background, has provided material and inspiration enough to fill a book. My ultimate goal is write poetry that will pay homage to their values while entertaining and educating the general public." 


Winner of the Will Rogers Medallion Award

Short Poems & Tall Cowboys
by Jesse Colt
illustrated by Val Moker
published by Friesens Business Machines,  ISBN: 0-9734619-0-x
100 McKee Crescent
Regina Saskatchewan, Canada
S4S 5N6

A poetic tribute to the cowboy, "the man who is true to himself," accompanied by impressive illustrations. 



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